Khutba: Eid al-Adha

17 March 2000

Say: "If your fathers or your sons or your brothers or your wives or your tribe, or any wealth you have acquired, or any business you fear may slump, or any dwelling-places which please you, are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger and fighting jihad in His Way, then wait until Allah brings about His command. Allah does not guide the fasiqun." (9:24)

It is clear from what we have heard, and indeed from its name al-Adha which means sacrifice, that a major part of the significance of this blessed day is connected with the act of sacrifice. This rite of sacrifice has come down to us as the practice of our forefather Ibrahim from ancient times and the importance given to it by Allah in His Book, and by his Messenger in what he did and said about it, show that it has a central place in our deen. But what does Allah say about the reality of it in Surat al-Hajj:

Their flesh and blood does not reach Allah but your taqwa does reach Him.

This shows us that by fulfilling the rite of sacrifice we are in fact demonstrating something deeper which is our awareness of our Lord and our desire to please Him. By making the sacrifice we are saying that our attachment to Allah is greater than our attachment to what is in this world. In this respect our sacrifice on this day reflects a principle which in fact pervades all of our deen and extends into every aspect of our lives.

What is the prayer itself other than an illustration of this principle. We are sacrificing a certain amount of every day – our attachment to our daily activities, our immersion in this world – and making actual, both physically and spiritually, inwardly and outwardly, the reality of our attachment to Allah. Notice that Allah puts the two things together when He says to the Prophet in Surat al-Kawthar, while affirming the unbreakable nature of the tie between Him and His Messenger:

So pray to your Lord and sacrifice.

If you think about it, this element of sacrifice also is present in all our other basic practices. In zakat we give up some of our wealth, in fasting we give up food, drink and sex, in the hajj we expend our time, our wealth and our effort. But it is vital to remember that in no instance does this sacrifice involve any loss whatever to ourselves. We have to show certain amount of self-restraint but there is no real deprivation or punishment involved at all. Quite the opposite, in fact, because by Allah's incomparable generosity what we receive in return is much much greater than anything we have given up. We sacrifice a tiny amount of what, in any case, He has given us and He then returns it to us in this world multiplied many times over and in addition rewards us for it in the Next World in a way which is beyond any reckoning at all.

The ayat I started this with shows us how this principle of sacrifice extends to the rest of our lives. It mentions our families, our possessions, our work and our leisure time, everything, in fact, which is liable to occupy our hearts and minds. What we see from the ayat is that the sacrifice Allah is asking of us is not to give these things up but to give up our excessive attachment to them. What is essential is for us to love Allah and His Messenger more than anything else, that we see them as the most important things in our lives. If that is the case it will certainly manifest itself in what we do on a day to day basis, in our attendance at the prayer, in a concern for one another which transcends narrow self-interest, in a determination to see Allah's deen established which makes us put that above our personal concerns.

One way this will and must show itself is in our sharing this priceless gift of Islam we have been given with those around us. Looking at the number of lines in the prayer and the people who make them up it is clear that we are almost unchanged from what we were a year ago and it is therefore impossible to avoid the conclusion that we have not been successful in doing this during the last year. Without a considerable and continual increase in our numbers any desire we express to see Allah's deen established can only be called wishful thinking. We must be careful not to let our natural and legitimate repugnance for kufr make us exclusive and inaccessible. Most of our fellow countrymen are rushing headlong to the Fire. Only the train we are lucky enough to be on is going in the opposite direction. We have to let people know this. We should be leaning out of the doors and windows calling out to those we pass and pulling them on board if we possibly can.

There are, of course, dyed-in-the-wool kafirs who are unreachable but the vast majority of people are kafir by default rather than conviction and we are responsible before Allah for telling them about Allah and His Messenger and making Islam really accessible to them – all of us in every way we can. This will require every one of us to generate within ourselves an active intention to see our numbers increase and to be generous with what Allah has given us. People desperately need what we have and the truth is that we also desperately need to do everything we can to share it with them. If we do not, we stand in danger of seeing ourselves replaced by other people who will.

So the highest lesson we can take from this most blessed of all days, the Day of Sacrifice, is that our individual concerns should be made subordinate to Allah and His Messenger and our personal projects merged with that of the whole community in our common desire to see Allah's word uppermost and Islam re-established in its entirety. And we must remember that in all of this there will be nothing but gain for all of us both in this world and the Next, a reward beyond our even our wildest expectations

No self knows the delight that is hidden away for it in recompense for what it used to do. (32:17)

We ask Allah tabaraka wa ta'ala to bless His Messenger, the Best of Creation, with a blessing which will raise him in the Praiseworthy Station he has promised him and rebound back on us with an opening for the whole umma. And we ask Allah to bless the Khulafa Rashidun, Sayyidina Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, Sayyidina 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, Sayyidina 'Uthman ibn 'Affan and Sayyidina 'Ali ibn Abi Talib and the family and wives and all the Companions of the Prophet. We ask Allah to bless our shaykh and his khalifa and our amirs and all our men, women, and children and give us success in establishing his deen in ourselves and around us and calling others to it and making that the highest priority of our lives. We ask Allah to bless those on hajj and all the Muslims, especially those who are fighting to preserve themselves and their deen. We ask Allah to give victory to His deen. By the baraka of this day we ask Allah to forgive us and have mercy on us and all the Muslims and to give us a seal which will ensure our entry to the Garden and grant us the vision of His Face.

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